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Nigeria’s finance ministry gets $5.6m W’Bank loan for stationery, solar inverter

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The Home Finance Department of the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning has received the sum of $5.6m from the World Bank to procure 21 items, which included office stationeries, furniture, solar inverter, office equipment, and vehicles.

The approvals were made under the State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability project, which was initiated in 2018.

The SFTAS project was designed to strengthen transparency and accountability at the sub-national level and ended in 2022.

However, the implementation of the projects is still ongoing according to a document obtained from the bank.

A total of $1.5bn was committed to the project in two batches of $750m (December 2018 and December 2020) by the World Bank.

Although the money is a grant to state governments, it is a loan to the Federal Government. A copy of the procurement plan for the project covering a period from February 2019 to August 2020.

The procurement plan is in line with the World Bank’s Procurement Guidelines which establish the arrangements to be made for procuring the goods and works (including related services) required for a project.

According to the procurement plan for the SFTAS project for the period disclosed by the World Bank, the Home Finance Department received $25,713 to acquire office stationery and supplies.

It also got another $39,357, up from the N33,000 initially requested for additional office equipment and supplies for the SFTAS Programme Coordinating Unit.

For the furniture items, the department got $64,190 for furnishing and equipping SFTAS Public Service Institute space; $14,842 for additional office furniture and partitioning of the STFAS office, as well as $19,368 up from $17,250 for additional office equipment and furniture for the Debt Management Office.

The department also received $24,038 for the procurement of video conferencing equipment for the SFTAS PCU and MiFi modems for the DMO.

However, the biggest approval was for the provision of spatial data to states, which was implemented at the cost of $4.78m.

There was also $409,638 received for the procurement of project vehicles for the PCU and independent verification agent. The ministry also spent the procurement of an Inverter Power Backup System for the SFTAS Programme Coordinating Unit.

Out of the 21 items proposed, two were cancelled, four were successfully completed, and another was under implementation. Also, three were pending implementation, and 11 projects were only signed as of the time the document was released in December 2023.

The World Bank recently disclosed that Nigeria was the top recipient of its fresh loans in 2022, with about $2.9 billion released to the country.

Another report also stated that Nigeria is currently servicing about $14.12bn from 108 approved loans. In the report, it was observed that the oldest loan being serviced was approved as far back as 1989 under Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, while the most recent loan being serviced was approved in 2018 under the former administration of Muhammadu Buhari.

The oldest loan is the $100.9m Multistate Agricultural Development Project (03), which was approved to support the implementation of the state-wide Agricultural Development Projects, with the objective of increasing food/crop production and the income of small farmers.

The SFTAS‘ Communications Specialist, Ibrahim Mohammed, in an earlier interview with The PUNCH, said that it was a regular procedure to purchase items needed for a project.

He noted that the items were acquired at the start of the project and were used to ensure the successful implementation of the project.

He said, “When a programme starts, there is procurement of the basic items needed for the jobs. So, procurement was made in terms of providing furniture for the office, ICT infrastructure, and the rest. They are all for the use of the office, not the ministry or department.

“The office is situated in the Home Finance Department of the Ministry of Finance. We have implementing agencies and partners like the DMO, AGF, OGP, and the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation. All the salaries for consultants are drawn from that fund, and the consultants offer technical assistance to the states.”

 

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3 million children at risk in Sudan as civil war engulfs – U.N

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The war between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces has killed 12,190 people, according to conservative estimates by the Armed Conflict Locations and Events Data project. It has displaced 5.4 million people inside the country, according to the UN, and sent over 1.3 million fleeing abroad.

Sudan’s raging civil war threatens the lives of almost 3 million children, the United Nations Children’s Fund said Thursday, as fighting imperils what had become a haven for hundreds of thousands of displaced people.

Fighting in the huge northeastern African nation has now reached Jazeera state, the country’s breadbasket with a population of 5.9 million people — half of whom are children, UNICEF said.

« This new wave of violence could leave children and families trapped between fighting lines or caught in the crossfire, with fatal consequences, » the organization’s executive director, Catherine Russell, said in a statement Thursday.

The latest about of violence broke out on April 15, as Sudan’s military and a powerful paramilitary force vied for power. Since then, heavy fighting has left hundreds of thousands of people facing the agonizing decision of whether to flee their homes or stay and risk injury or death in the violence. Cease-fires have failed to halt the power struggle and fueled the growing humanitarian crisis.

Civilians are often caught up in the crossfire as neighborhoods are divided between the armed forces, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces, led by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo.

Some 9,000 people have been killed in the violence, according to the U.N., but local doctors groups and activists say the death toll is likely far higher.

Almost 300,000 people have fled Jazeera state, moving to the nearby Sennar state, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Wednesday.

 

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‘Nothing for me in Cameroon’: Waiting in Tunisia, one eye on Europe

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Having lost everything and everyone precious to him, Joseph tries to hold things together, waiting to leave Africa.

Joseph Afumbom is a big man who has faced unimaginable tragedy.

The conflict in Cameroon between Anglophone separatists and the government killed the 27-year-old’s mother, father and siblings. It also took his home in Bamenda in the country’s northwest.

“I was there when the war started. The war took everyone,” he said, “It was three years ago. My brothers and sisters are all gone.”

With his home and family destroyed and no jobs available, Joseph felt he had no option but to gather his fiancee, Esther, and their three-year-old daughter and travel the 5,000km (more than 3,000 miles) overland to the Mediterranean coast. They arrived in Algeria, where they considered crossing into Tunisia and from there to Europe.

However, both Joseph’s fiancee and daughter died in El Menia. “They are all gone because of the cold,” he says. “That was last month.”

“I’m just trying to act normal, you know,” he tells Al Jazeera. “See, I’m smoking. I’m whiling away my thinking, trying to act like a normal person, but I’m not.”

He paused, allowing his thoughts to drift back. “We had been together for years. My daughter was three. I called her ‘Little Joy’.”

Eventually, Joseph crossed into Tunisia, making his way to the coastal city of Sfax before travelling by shared taxis to the capital, Tunis. He didn’t eat for two days.

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“There is nothing left for me in Cameroon,” he says. “I will continue to Europe if I have the opportunity.”

This article is the third of a five-part series of portraits of refugees from different countries, with diverse backgrounds, bound by shared fears and hopes as they enter 2024. Read the first and second parts here.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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Chad: Supreme court approves ‘yes’ referendum vote

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Chad’s Supreme Court definitively validated the results of the referendum for a new constitution organized by the military junta that has been in power for the past two and a half years, a key step intended to pave the way for elections in the country at the end of 2024.

According to the final results, the « yes » side won with 85.90% of the vote, while the « no » side won 14.10%, with a turnout of 62.8%, the president of the Supreme Court told a press conference.

For some members of the opposition and civil society, the result of this ballots a plebiscite resembles designed to pave the way for the election of the transitional president, General Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno.

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the Bloc Fédéral, an opposition coalition which had called for the results to be annulled on the grounds of several irregularities in the voting process.

The opposition, which had widely called for a boycott, denounced, in the words of Max Kemkoye, president of the Groupe de concertation des actors politiques (GCAP), « a second coup d’état by Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno », in the face of results which, in his view, were not credible.

The new constitutional text is not very different from the one already in force, and still gives great power to the Head of State.

Mahamat Déby, 37, was proclaimed transitional president by the army on April 20, 2021, at the head of a junta of 15 generals, following the death of his father Idriss Déby Itno, who was killed by rebels on his way to the front. Idriss Déby Itno had ruled the country with an iron fist for over 30 years.

The young general immediately promised elections after an 18-month transition period, and made a commitment to the African Union not to run. Eighteen months later, his regime extended the transition by two years and authorized him to stand in the presidential elections scheduled for late 2024.

On the anniversary of the 18-month transition, October 20, 2022, between 100 and more than 300 young men and teenagers were shot dead in N’Djamena by police and military, according to the opposition and national and international NGOs.

They were demonstrating against the two-year extension of the presidential term.

More than a thousand were imprisoned before being pardoned, but dozens were tortured or disappeared, according to NGOs and the opposition.

 

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